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  1. #1
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    Default Office staffing question

    Ok. When is it time to hire an office manager? I'm feeling like I am spinning in circles some days and I don't get anything done and I seem to be making a lot of mistakes lately.

    I have the most experience doing shop work here. I am trying to teach my people what I know as well as run the office and run machines also. I don't micromanage, the people that work for me are good but they need help sometimes. I feel like I am running from one end of the shop to the other.
    I answer all the phone calls now all the emails do the shipping receiving material ordering quoting ect. My wife does the payroll, invoicing and book keeping. But she has a full time job outside of the shop and only works here a few hours a week. She's telling me that there's not enough for someone to do all day.
    To be honest I think I suck at office management.

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    Sounds like you need someone that is experienced in office operations but not afraid to do secondary ops or other hands on stuff to fill out their time. Or perhaps someone that wants to work limited hours, someone with kids or retired person.

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    You want to make sure you're thinking about this in terms of lost costs due to inefficiencies vs. the cost of an office manager.

    If you weren't tied up answering phones/emails, etc. would you be able to respond to more quotes? If so, how many and how much revenue would those jobs generate? Would you be able to train your employees better so more throughput could go through the shop? If so, how much more revenue would that generate? Are you losing customers because things are late or there's nobody making sure they're happy? If so, how valuable are those particular customers?

    I think this is a difficult question for anybody to answer that doesn't know your business, but if the cost of an office manager is less than any of those things above, I'd say it's time to get you some help.

    On the plus side, it sounds like your business is booming so congrats! Hope this helps!

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    Quote Originally Posted by nopoint View Post
    Or perhaps someone that wants to work limited hours, someone with kids or retired person.
    Good idea. Put an ad up here .... there's got to be a few old farts around who'd like to keep busy a few days a week. Maybe they can deburr parts part-time, too !

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    Quote Originally Posted by nopoint View Post
    Sounds like you need someone that is experienced in office operations but not afraid to do secondary ops or other hands on stuff to fill out their time. Or perhaps someone that wants to work limited hours, someone with kids or retired person.
    Yes. Since this is still a small company whoever fills the job would have to possibly get involved with operations also. Is that asking too much?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gear cutter View Post
    Ok. When is it time to hire an office manager? I'm feeling like I am spinning in circles some days and I don't get anything done and I seem to be making a lot of mistakes lately.

    I have the most experience doing shop work here. I am trying to teach my people what I know as well as run the office and run machines also. I don't micromanage, the people that work for me are good but they need help sometimes. I feel like I am running from one end of the shop to the other.
    I answer all the phone calls now all the emails do the shipping receiving material ordering quoting ect. My wife does the payroll, invoicing and book keeping. But she has a full time job outside of the shop and only works here a few hours a week. She's telling me that there's not enough for someone to do all day.
    To be honest I think I suck at office management.
    I can't see off-loading management of the business to another person unless you literally hire them as boss and obey their commands. The real art is dealing with interruptions, ordering materials, and compensating for delays by quickly shoe-horning in other work or similar operations, and making them work for you. Who else gives a shit about your business, as much as you do?

    And refuse petty jobs if they are disrupting your schedule too much. If you can actually do some machining, about 4 hrs per day is good to achieve. and more than that will likely require a longer day (alone). If you have cnc or other forms of automated machining, then those last few hours are the actual moneymakers, but you've got to get double shop rate out of those hours.

    I find it quite normal to have some 'prep days' intermingled with some real good days where all that I've planned finally works for a while. It is equally annoying to have to find simple work for employees and keep everything running smooth for them. But if you've got 'em, you've got to make their time very productive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DocSteel View Post
    You want to make sure you're thinking about this in terms of lost costs due to inefficiencies vs. the cost of an office manager.

    If you weren't tied up answering phones/emails, etc. would you be able to respond to more quotes? If so, how many and how much revenue would those jobs generate? Would you be able to train your employees better so more throughput could go through the shop? If so, how much more revenue would that generate? Are you losing customers because things are late or there's nobody making sure they're happy? If so, how valuable are those particular customers?

    I think this is a difficult question for anybody to answer that doesn't know your business, but if the cost of an office manager is less than any of those things above, I'd say it's time to get you some help.

    On the plus side, it sounds like your business is booming so congrats! Hope this helps!
    My scheduling skills are not the greatest here lately. I am loosing track of things. It's probably cost me some repeat work.

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    I have one full time administrative assistant who answers the phone, does A/P, A/R, H/R, receptionist, bookkeeping (excluding tax returns), purchasing, basically everything in the office except quoting work (but she prepares the quote I give her) and payroll (we use an outside service). Nine total employees, job shop type tool work. I pay her very well, and she is worth it. It will take a while to train the right person (she knew bookkeeping and Quick books). I used to do it all too, but wouldn't ever go back to that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gear cutter View Post
    Yes. Since this is still a small company whoever fills the job would have to possibly get involved with operations also. Is that asking too much?
    What operations? You mean in the shop? I doubt someone with some form of office skills would be any use in the shop, unless just packing/counting parts, or the like. I can't see someone dressed for an office job out sweeping the floor or deburring parts...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    What operations? You mean in the shop? I doubt someone with some form of office skills would be any use in the shop, unless just packing/counting parts, or the like. I can't see someone dressed for an office job out sweeping the floor or deburring parts...
    more like shipping and receiving.

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    Look for a degreed stay at home mom that has the middle portion of her day wide open while the kids are at school. Check at churches, preschools and schools for leads. You'll find someone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    I can't see off-loading management of the business to another person unless you literally hire them as boss and obey their commands. The real art is dealing with interruptions, ordering materials, and compensating for delays by quickly shoe-horning in other work or similar operations, and making them work for you. Who else gives a shit about your business, as much as you do?

    And refuse petty jobs if they are disrupting your schedule too much. If you can actually do some machining, about 4 hrs per day is good to achieve. and more than that will likely require a longer day (alone). If you have cnc or other forms of automated machining, then those last few hours are the actual moneymakers, but you've got to get double shop rate out of those hours.

    I find it quite normal to have some 'prep days' intermingled with some real good days where all that I've planned finally works for a while. It is equally annoying to have to find simple work for employees and keep everything running smooth for them. But if you've got 'em, you've got to make their time very productive.
    I'm not really looking for someone to manage the business just to do the work that I'm not really good at so I can do what I'm good at.
    I don't get "petty jobs" my customer base is mostly industrial repair and new for O.E.M's, not a lot of walk ins. I tell any one who shows up with a lawnmower part or something similar that I have a minimum charge. If they aren't swayed by that then I know it's a serious job.
    What I'm wondering is if an office assistant would give me time for prep days. Or time to schedule work better.

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    I honestly don't know if this group could help you find someone, but it might.

    Homepage | SCORE

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    How much time are you getting for sleep, and when was your last real vacation?

    After you answer those, you can figure out if you need to take some time to step back, look at the workflow in your place, and see how to improve it so you recover efficiency that's been lost to "growth work" - everything that goes with running a shop, besides the machinery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gear cutter View Post
    Ok. When is it time to hire an office manager? I'm feeling like I am spinning in circles some days and I don't get anything done and I seem to be making a lot of mistakes lately.

    I have the most experience doing shop work here. I am trying to teach my people what I know as well as run the office and run machines also. I don't micromanage, the people that work for me are good but they need help sometimes. I feel like I am running from one end of the shop to the other.
    I answer all the phone calls now all the emails do the shipping receiving material ordering quoting ect. My wife does the payroll, invoicing and book keeping. But she has a full time job outside of the shop and only works here a few hours a week. She's telling me that there's not enough for someone to do all day.
    To be honest I think I suck at office management.
    I think the wife should work more hours at the shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gear cutter View Post
    I'm not really looking for someone to manage the business just to do the work that I'm not really good at so I can do what I'm good at.
    I don't get "petty jobs" my customer base is mostly industrial repair and new for O.E.M's, not a lot of walk ins. I tell any one who shows up with a lawnmower part or something similar that I have a minimum charge. If they aren't swayed by that then I know it's a serious job.
    What I'm wondering is if an office assistant would give me time for prep days. Or time to schedule work better.
    To your last question: yes. A good office manager - which is NOT the same as a business manager - is worth his or her weight in gold. This is the person who keeps up with details, makes sure bills and invoices are sent out on time, answers the phone, responds to emails promptly, etc. And if really good, this is the person that gently nags you to make sure you stay on track. Not that I need any nagging, of course. Cough, cough ...

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    Don't do stuff you suck at. Hire a professional to run the office. I absolutely despise accounting and book keeping so i hire a book keeper. Why waste your time doing the job af a $20 an hour person when you could be doing shop work that makes $100 an hour?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    How much time are you getting for sleep, and when was your last real vacation?

    After you answer those, you can figure out if you need to take some time to step back, look at the workflow in your place, and see how to improve it so you recover efficiency that's been lost to "growth work" - everything that goes with running a shop, besides the machinery.
    Sleep? probably not enough, 4 hours a night. Vacation? I haven't had a break in 10 to 15 years. I rarely get to eat meals with my family. They joke about it but it isn't as funny as it used to be. The company is steadily growing though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawnrs View Post
    I think the wife should work more hours at the shop.
    I'm not sure that's the answer. She's not comfortable with this type of environment. She doesn't like doing the machine shop thing. She did it for a while and did it very well. I just don't think it's something she would want to do for a 40 hour job.

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    Countryboy had a good idea. Another possibility beside the stay-at-home mom working the middle of the day would be someone retired and hoping to supplement their income. Either way you should be able to find someone with above-average skills, happy to work a part-time job.

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